Former presidential candidate Amr Moussa was elected as president of the Constituent Assembly responsible for amending the 2012 constitution during the group’s first meeting on Sunday. Moussa earned 30 votes while his opponent, Lawyers’ Syndicate head Sameh Ashour, earned only 16.
The assembly chose three deputies for the president, prominent heart surgeon Magdy Yaaqoub, representative for the National Council for Human Rights Mona Zulficar and former Muslim Brotherhood prominent member and Islamic thinker Kamal El Helbawi.
The assembly also chose constitutional expert Gaber Nassar as the assembly’s rapporteur, while head of Writers’ Union Mohamed Salmawy was selected as the assembly’s official spokesman.
Moussa, who appeared to have had a pre-written speech ready before being elected, said that democracy is the only solution for Egypt to pass through the current phase. Moussa added that he feels the weight of the responsibility “of writing a constitution that guarantees democracy, human rights, pluralism and separating between state’s authorities.”
The former presidential candidate affirmed, however, that the assembly would work on the suggestions presented by the 10-judge-committee, not the 2012 constitution itself, as a base of its deliberations.
Moussa confirmed that the assembly’s backup members will be allowed to attend the meetings without having the right to vote.
The assembly decided that its second meeting would be held on Monday at 10am, with deliberations concerning regulations organising the assembly’s work. Zulficar said that she and Nassar have written a list of regulations to be discussed in Monday’s meeting. The meeting will also discuss if the assembly’s meeting will be televised.
State-owned Al-Ahram cited Ibrahim Abaza, media committee coordinator in Al-Nour Party, as saying that the Islamist party would participate in the Constituent Assembly. The party’s representative, Bassam El Zarka, did not attend Sunday’s meeting.
Party head, Younes Makhyoun told Al-Ahram that “this decision came after the party felt the weight of the responsibility of defending the gains of 25 January Revolution.” He added that the party wants to be “honoured for defending the identity articles in the constitution.” It is expected that El Zarka will attend Monday’s meeting.
The party was hesitant over the course of the past week to participate in the assembly’s meetings.
Al-Azhar, Coptic Orthodox, Evangelical and Catholic churches representatives met in Al-Azhar’s headquarters on Saturday. The meeting was to “re-affirm the national unity of Egypt” according to the statement issued by Al-Azhar.
The conferees included the Grand Mufti, Shawki Allam; constituent assembly members representing Al-Azhar Mohamed Abdel Salam, Abdallah El Naggar, and their backups Mohamed Mehanna and Mohga Ghaleb. Members representing the Church were also present, including: Ava Pola representing the Orthodox, Safwat El Bayady representing the Evangelica,l and Ava Antonios Aziz representing the Catholic. According to the statement, they agreed on choosing national interests over political affiliations and preserving the Egyptian identity in the constitution.
Aziz told Al-Ahram after the meeting that the Christian churches decided not to discuss Article 219 (The Sharia principles explanation article) with Al-Azhar, being more concerned with the articles regarding Women and Children’s rights. Aziz affirmed that the coordination between the churches and Al-Azhar will continue through the duration of the Constituent Assembly.